Winter season 2019 / 2020
Geographical area: Valdres, Hemsedal & Lærdal
Some useful links:
Weather: http://www.yr.no or https://www.storm.no
Worth checking out both as they can give different conditions.
Pictures? There are several social media outlets on Facebook and Instagram.
Instagram: Often eclectic gatherings of folk and there want to be audiences.
Roads: An old link that has got suddenly rather savvy is the state road people on www.vegvesen.no apart from road regs you can also find all the road webcams and get a feeling for road conditions/snow conditions. Loads of webcams these days pointing at the road obviously but you get some good shots of ice and snow conditions a well.
In case of an emergency (none medical) Call the police 112 (or 02800 as a none emergency)
In case of a medical emergency call the ambulance 113. This will bring you directly to a person that can advise on medical situations as well as instigate the rescue.
Rather late first post. My excuse ;) a 17 month old baby and lots of winter climbing courses and rather to little free time and sleep
Anyway, During November and early December 2019 it snowed heavily, more heavily than normal, however by the end of December and over the new year temperatures have fluctuated from cold (-15) to plus (+4) regularly. In terrain the snow is deep requiring a consisted effort with snow shoes or skis to get anywhere. Even after all the freeze thaw cycles this has changed in many locations.
Bagn in Valdres: Falls generally well formed. Good ice generally on steep sections, however on slack sections / ledges which have become snow covered there is layering and often poor ice. Snow ha lingered on slack areas uncharacteristically longer than normal, considering the amount of thaw that has occurred.
Vang in Valdres: Langåni - first rope length was completely gone on Saturday (19/01/20), however the rest was formed and looked good. Other falls in the area formed, however like Bagn slack areas have snow.
Ski: Vang: Good skiing can be found in the forest. Tricky avalanche condition a the moment. Experience is required to travel in avalanche terrain at the moment.
In Hemsedal: From what I can see and have heard falls are formed and are being climbed with reports of variable conditions.
Thanks Jamie. I don't suppose you know of any resources on Norway cross-country or (better) back-country skiing conditions? I have a trip coming up.
For cross country you could try:
for off piste. Try contacting. DNT
Jamie - thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for!!
Conditions update 23/01/2020:
Over the last three days I've been running a mentoring ice climbing course. We climbed on Tuesday at Bagn and although it was plus degrees the small fall was in good shape. Dammen still had snow on the second pitch and the falls also had snow on the ledges. We took a drive up to Stavadalen and most things looked washed out, apart from O'hoi and Valdres Express. It was a bit murky light at the end of the day so the pictures on @alpinedragons are a bit poor. Someone else sent me picture of O'hoi which makes it look doable. Valdres Express looked blue still.
On Wednesday with high winds forecasted we went to Hemsedal to climb Flagetfossen. This was in good nick and as always a pleasure to climb. After this we dashed round to Torsetfossen. This had visible running water at the top. The top part of the first pitch had some scary looking umbrellas and thin ice so we just sacked it after 40m or so. First section felt quite steep compared to other years. Sunny side climbs look a bit wasted now, however I didn't hit any so I have no idea about quality.
Thursday: We climbed at Åbjøra, near Leira in Valdres, a fall hidden in a gorge surrounded by pine trees. Good ice, a bit brittle in places.
Last weekend I ran an avalanche course. Saturday was on Nibbi over in Hemsedal. Nice turns on soft snow. Wind increased during the day. Sunday saw us in Vang. High winds which brought a stop to the day earlier than wished. Nice turns once you cut through the thin crust.
Weird winter. Low temps will return, most roads like scatting rings.
Hi Jamie, thanks for the great posts - is there any resource you could reccomnend for conditions above the arctic circle? eg senja, tromso etc?
Unfortunately not. Most forums or info are found through Facebook groups and people following Instagram.
stavedalen : a part of Valdresexpressen fell down yesterday. O’hoi is detached in part from the rock and has a crack traversing it.
Seen a post from Kalvedalen, Beitostølen: falls formed but looked quite sun affected.
routes in the shade still good, although snow lingering on ledges.
Word on the street is Hyllefossen above Fagernes is in surprisingly good nick.
Rain today, but a return to colder temps tomorrow onwards.
Climbed at Stavadalen on Saturday. Most routes got climbed. Den Innerste Fossen/Valdressexpressen, Ohoi, Makalu, and Søylefossen. Any ice that fell from Valdressexpressen was probably minor, although the ice was delaminated. Søylefossen has been in the best condition possibly ever but now has a deep horizontal crack at the top of the pillar and looks like a death wish. A lot of sun affected ice around generally. Feels like the end of the season this year for Stavadalen, so won't be back. Kyrjukulen in excellent condition on Sunday despite the mild temperatures of late.
Thanks for the post. I agree I have never seen Søylefossen so well formed.
Update Vang 28/01/2020:
Took a drive through Vang today to check on conditions as I have another course running next week.
Langåni is still missing the first pitch. Drøsja was gone. Other falls on the same side looking a bit thin.
The Perl of Valdres in Skakadaken I think has fallen down (Normally you can see it from the road).
Other falls on the shadow side look okay still. Crags above the road near Øya look thin but doable (ish).
Picture from the car of Skjerva @alpinedragons, top steep bit looked turquoise in colour while the lower pitches looked incomplete.
Lots of grass showing in the valley. The thaw really hammered Vang.
Colder temps have returned with some snow.
Back at Åbjøra in Valdres yesterday. Good conditions. The trickiest part of the day was the walk in as a few cm of soft snow was obscuring the ice ;) Sun has returned to the top of the crag now.
Today we went to Bagn in Valdres: About -12 there today. Sun has started to creep back through the birch trees. The ice had cracked due to the cold but this didn't stop play. Quite a bit of variation in ice quality with toffee to glass like brittleness. Other falls in the area like Dammen are still covered in snow.
Report in of many things getting climbed, like Hydnefossen.
Many routes in the sun are getting effected while in the shade are good. Surprisingly so considering all the variation in temperature we have had recently.
With a return to colder temperatures routes have stabilised. Routes in the shade are generally wellformed, with reports on of climbing in many areas. In the sunny side there is mixed stories of conditions with reports in of many routes getting done. On the conditions front there generally seems to be split opinions, which seem to flow rather well with the rapid changes in temperature that have been experiencing this year.
For example: Over in Hemsedal a report came in that a team retreated from one fall because of tension cracks forming after a rapid sinking of temperature during the night, this was followed by another team a few days later saying the fall was in good condition, and then another team said the fall was dangerous and should not be climbed. Quantifying the quality of ice, especially in season where the temperatures fluctuate so much is subjective and rather challenging. One persons frozen waterfall is another persons trickling beck so to speak.
I'll get off my soapbox now before I fall and sprain an ankle ;)
Generally conditions on the shaded side of the valley are good, although with the cold temps brittle ice will be prevalent.
After a period of fluctuating temps, often plus the temps dropped to minus. There have been a few days with temps down to -15 and locally colder.
In Hemsedal: reports in of many route getting climbed. Routes like Ønderdalsdiedret seeing many ascents with reports in of 13 people seen on the route on one day. The same goes for Flagetfossen where reports in 6 teams were seen climbing the route on one day alone. To put this in context I have climbed Flagetfossen may times over the last 7 year and only ever seen another party on the route once during that time. The increased popularity in Hemsedal has been in part fuelled by poor conditions in Rjukan this year, a easily accessible guidebook and the power of social media. It will be interesting to see if the popularity continues next year.
Lots of conflicting conditions reports over the last few weeks. Especially on route getting effected by sun.
Valdres: Quiet. With very few reports in. Routes in the shade well formed. Some routes down in Bagn still holding snow on easy sections. In Vang in Valdres: Langåni hasn't re-built is first pitch, although today I saw it was trying to after the recent cold snap. The top section a week ago looked finished.
Beitostølen: Enormous amounts of snow. I could well imagine the skiing will be good once things settle a bit.
The seasons has been marked by fluctuating temperatures and little snow. Now we have more snow, however it can be variable from place to place.
Due to the situation in Norway I'm closing the thread for this season. It would seem inappropriate to continue considering many of the areas are now forbidden for people to visit.
As climbers and mountaineers we understand fear is often a companion on our tours; at times it helps focus the mind, however if we become totally taken over by fear we can become blinded by it. We steady the breath, become calmer and suddenly we can see more clearly.
Wishing you'll the very best and looking forward to seeing you next winter season
Take care dude.
Sabrina Verjee has beaten her own women's Pennine Way fastest known time, running the route in a time of 74 hours 28 minutes and 46 seconds, beating her previous time of 82 hours and 19 minutes.